Home > Debebe Seifu, poems > A poem by Debebe Seifu

A poem by Debebe Seifu

Debebe Seifu (1950-2000), the late Ethiopian poet and academician, wrote poems exploring topics ranging from struggles of the working class to the great imponderable such as beauty and truth. A warrior for truth, Debebe’s poems ring with a remarkable sincerity. His major themes were the creative impulse, power dynamics, greater self-awareness, and the clash between the artist and the values of a philistine society. Debebe, who studied English literature at the Addis Ababa University at Master’s level, taught at the same university — all the while balancing his academic life with his writing. He wrote most of his poems in Amharic and he translated a couple of them into English, though they remained unpublished. Here is one of his poems entitled, “We are now writing dirges”.
The fire blazing
Its tongue flowering
Called on us
To wrap ourselves
With its flaming scarves
But you and me
Warmth-proof that we were
Began to write dirges
With left-over cinders
On a tablet
Of tear-gray ashes

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  1. Hareg
    June 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Arefe, What a beautiful poem! IO have always loved Debebe.The words in the poems are so deep and beautiful ……..m reading the blog. Thanks really nice.Smile and following your blog now!

  2. June 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    How Debebe was fired from his university post and came to die alone and sick remains one of this country’s open wounds. By inner circles it was known that the poet was envied for his talent and he was victim of jealousy and malicious act. Today most of them don’t want to talk about it because those had their hands in his death are too powerful and “famous literary people” themselves. But his family members still haven’t completely healed, in fact extremely annoyed every time those very people who are responsible for his death bring forward themselves to talk about Debebe’s legacy. This is sad, more so because those lazy journalists from the press never cared to investigate the matter.

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